The mayor of a small city in Texas said women should not be allowed to lead the prayers at public meetings of the City Council, pointing to two verses in the Bible that he says were meant to be taken literally.

“All I ask is that those leading the public prayer be young men,” Wylie Mayor Eric Hogue wrote in an email to Jeff Forrester, a member of the City Council. “As a preacher for the Cottonwood Church of Christ, we take the two verses below literally.”

One of the bible verses that Hogue quotes from 1st Corinthians reads: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

He cited another passage from 1 Timothy that said: “Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

The reaction from the public was swift. The contents of the email, which Forrester says was released through an open records request, was posted on several Facebook pages related to Hogue’s politics, as well as to the page of the church he belongs to.

“I just was flabbergasted,” one of his constituents, Mary Shaddox, told KXAS-TV Fort Worth. “It’s 2020.”

Forrester said he has never seen Hogue disparage women in his nearly five years as a council member, but was still astounded by the email.

“I certainly don’t share those beliefs. I think we’re all created equally in the eyes of God and in the eyes of our government,” Forrester said.

Hogue verified the contents of the email and released a statement doubling down on his beliefs.

“I believe a lady can be president of the United States,” Hogue said. “I believe a lady can be CEO of a company, the superintendent of a school district. But I believe, and this is me, when it comes to [picking] somebody to lead the invocation at a City Council meeting, because of those two sets of verses, I’m going to choose a male.”

In his 12 years as mayor, Hogue has only used men to lead them in prayers before the council meetings. He announced earlier this year that he will not be seeking re-election. He said that until his current term expires in November, he will not compromise his beliefs to try to appease people.

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